13 Oct 2009

Fashion… Think French

 Can I wear that?

Is this too young for me?

Would I look like a fashion victim rather than the fashion stylist-a I want to be?

How do we women indulge our passion for fashion without crossing the ‘OMG-would-you-look-at-her’ line?

How do we stay stylish and modern?

~ ~ ~

These are questions that so frequently spring to mind as I face the truth that I am indeed a woman, with what feels like an indeterminate real age, trapped in the body of a 50 something year old.
The mind does not so easily compute what the body has shamelessly accepted and my thoughts refuse to understand that middle age waits for no man.
Do I want to dress like a woman approaching her golden years?…I don’t think so, yet I don’t want to dress like my daughters either.
~ ~ ~

So here is my answer, I refuse to capitulate, to give in or to concede and ‘drab’ and ‘dowdy’ will not be a part of my vocabulary.

I will compromise.

When I look in the shopfront window and admire something that would have worked twenty years ago I will remember that I have been there and done that. I will enjoy the nostalgic journey for that sake alone and then I will turn tail and search for the thing that will make me sparkle and that will make me happy now; I will rejoice in my maturity.

The beauty of fashion is that it is there to adapt – it is for us as individuals to make it work and to make it wearable.

Designers create guidelines and trends; I believe it is for women to bend the rules and suit themselves.

~ ~ ~

How to bend the rules?

You can’t bend them unless you understand them and it is for that reason that it is important to have a sense of what is a la mode.

Along with self worth and confidence, it is vital as women to be aware of the world around us and that includes fashion.

We can wear the latest and we should be inspired by the runway but on our own terms.

This season I adore the biker come rocker chic look that starred in many Parisian boutiques, but me and a pair of leather leggings, studded boots, ripped tee-shirt and a zippered jacket will never see eye to eye – as much as I might want too.

Fast forward and find me a ruffled shirt, a slimline leather blazer, some J Brands and suede high-heeled ankle boots and I might just get away with it.

~ ~ ~

The French woman has a simple skill that ensures a fashionable look; she knows how to accessorise.

Many women in Paris last weekend were wearing the little black dress with multitudes of colourful bangles and the cutest flat boots or they were wearing slim pants and the classic tee with drop dead gorgeous stiletto shoe boots.

Whether these women were wearing leather jackets or boyfriend blazers their forms looked edgy.

I believe that Parisian women accept fashion as an essential part of life, perhaps it is because their city lives and breathes designers or perhaps it is a legacy from their mothers and grandmothers.

They are not afraid to be fashionable and nor are they afraid to dissect a trend and re-interpret it to suit themselves.

The French women I observe don’t copy a look from head to toe…they know that doesn’t work…they shake it up.

These women know how to find their strengths and run with them.

~ ~ ~

So from now on I am going to focus on my strong points.

 

I am not going to feel disappointed or depressed that I can no longer wear what I could.

 

I am going to stop worrying about what has passed and embrace my grown up choices.

 

I am going to change my fashion philosophy; I am going to think like a French woman and live in the present… xv

 

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69 Comments

Laura

Great post! I will endeavor to do the same! Have to admire the style and confidence of those French women!
:) Laura

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Alison Gibbs

Great post Vicki. It is often quite difficult to find something to wear once you hit 50+, something that doesn't make you look like some drab old granny!!
Yay for the french women and their sense of self and style.
Alison

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Mrs. G

Great fashion advice! I'm with you all the way. Last weekend I went into fashion default and didn't even make an effort. Of course that would be the time when the opportunity to be photographed with one of the USA's most popular TV design stars presents itself.

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M.Lane

Sounds to me like a manifesto for happiness. Very, very good piece.

I recall some designer saying in an interview that their runway pieces aren't intended to be actually worn off the runway. They want to paint the bold picture and then let each person viewing it smear a little of the paint onto their own palette. Just what you propose to do. Bravo.

ML
mlanesepic.blogspot.com

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Debra

I know this feeling of wanting to look so 'with-it' and yet be age appropriate. I do think there is a balance. Thankfully I have a very stylish niece who keeps me up-to-date on things and will let me know if I should step too far outside of the line. Fabulous post Vicki.

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A Gift Wrapped Life

Me too Vicki! I posted about this last week so all this fashion must have us looking for the fine line
after 50. I am sure your interpetation would even be better than most 20 yr. old's! It would be nice to have all that French style to observe. XO

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mary

Hi Vicki, Yes to everything in your post!! WE are simply getting better, and deeper in spirit. About the body-thing.. couldn't agree more. Thanks for saying out loud what I have been thinking–now I need to go find those boots (bought a red and black plaid short bomber-type jacket last week which I need to show my daughter for her approval). Have a wonderful week.

Reply
Greet

I loved your story about fashion and the Parisian woman!
I am agree that she is always dressed so nice, fashionable and elegant! I think it is something they have from mother to daughter,…
And maybe we can learn a lot watching them, to choose our own wardrobe! But the way we wear it, will be different to how they wear it, I think!

xx
Greet

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Annie@A View On Design

hmm 50 something, I think you may get a glance or two, obviously there are other factors that may help, ie. where you wear it (although that head piece, hmm I think that will get comments anywhere you go!)

Why don't you try it and let us know how it goes!

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Virginia

You are absolutely right Vicki. You have no idea what age I have trapped in this 60+ body and she wants OUT!! As Olivia says,"Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize!"
V

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Trouvais

Wonderful, thank you. What do they call us…"a woman of indeterminate age"…well reasoned approach from the capital of style. You're helping us age gracefully, which of course, is happily. Trish

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Anne Marie

you know……..not only was this a great post (I'm going to read it about 4 more times) but i realized something……..this would be a fantastic book idea for you……

to help us all, not only find how to fit Parisienne fashion into our aging bodies, yet youthful minds….

great – great post…..
(I'm Hungarian, and already are wearing a bubushka – I think I need some 'french time') lol

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Angie Muresan

Well Vicki, I do think that we all can get away with just about anything, provided we don't overdo it. I don't believe in the age thing, mainly because we're all aging and fashion belongs to all of us, not just the young. That said, you are right about finding out your strong points and your own style.

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Mary

Love your post – I am living in the world of jeans and plaid flannel shirts or hunting camouflage……I NEED your fashion talk and photos more than you know!!

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sherry ♥ lee

I loved this Vicki! You speak for so many of us — we are "this" age but we feel "that" age. I don't want dowdy and frumpy — I'm no where near ready for that (probably never will be!). And while I wax nostalgic about what I once wore and looked good in, I am now of an age where I accept the flaws and the good points, I accentuate the positive and take new styles and modify them to make myself feel good and that I am au currant. Accessories…that's the way to go!!

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The Daily Connoisseur

Good for you Vicki! I wholeheartedly agree- you must feel comfortable and beautiful in the clothes you wear so there is no point adapting to a trend for the mere sake of wearing a trend. I love this post. It is inspiring! xo

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Cathi

wonderful wonderful post, and I am in total agreement with you. I don't want to look like my daughter or my mom, just the best me I can be…casually elegant is what I aspire to be.

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My Castle in Spain

Spot on Vicki ! i love when you say "I refuse to capitulate"…after all it's all about what fashion is really.
This is a very happy post, as there's nothing more exciting at times than being in the present!
:-)

ps: will you tell when your new book is on Amazon?

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Blue Muse

Fantastic post, Vicki!

bend the rules and suit themselves My new mantra.

Here's to our beautiful, sophisticated, loved, grown-up selves. Cheers!
xo Isa

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Jacqueline

Hear, hear, Vicki. I have always loved fashion…as a teenager in the '60's, I used to hang out in BIBA all day with the 'in crowd'.
I think that you summed it up in the paragraph on leather.
Years ago, I wore leather trousers. I wouldn't be seen dead in them now, but a beautiful leather jacket still works. Also, I think that the simpler, the better. …so much more stylish.Oh, also…I love John Galliano.
XXXX

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Karen

I know where your coming from at 50 something it is sometimes very hard to look fashionable and not stupid.You have echoed the thoughts of many of us.
Kind Regards
Karen

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Gaia

Fabulous!
You always say and write what most of the woman always think. Fashion give you the guideline but it's you then to find your style and what's the best for you, your age, your body and your life. I love fashion and sometimes I wish I sould wear one of the fantastic dress seen on the catwalk but for my "normal" life it will be too much.
I'm 35 years old and I think I found my style and I'll follow it.It makes me feel comfortable and elegant. I think I have a sense of style so I know what's ok and what is not for me.
Reading your posts about women, elegance, french style makes me feel I'm doing ok!
Thanks for beso inspiring! Always!!!

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Paris Atelier

Bravo Vicki!!! Nothing is more fashionable than grace and beauty! I love this post…it is always fun to look at those amazing couture creations though! :)
xoxo
Judith~

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Rita

There seems to be several 'fine lines' to worry about once one reaches the 50+ age…face and fashion. Looking polished,fresh, and fashionable, without crossing the line of looking foolish. Thanks for this little lesson reminder.

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Suze

A wonderful piece…and so true of us, the women of a special age…

Power to you, Vicki…I'm sure you'll always make heads turn in admiration.

Maybe that's the test, new home, new style…

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The Pink Poodle

dear Vicki….I love your attitude & your blog makes me feel better in myself…
My mum at nearly 87 yo is a fashion icon..she dresses beautifully every day… even just to go down the street..she is very FRENCH in her thinking…
She has tried to instill this ethos into me…BUT with me doing soo much sport..I kind of fade after./get soo tired….& dress a bit daggy to venture out for groceries..!
to my mother's horror!!

I think the FRENCH would also be horrified by MOIS…
BUT when I have to get dressed up…this girl can still PULL IT OFF!!

xx andrea

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Josephine Tale Peddler

I am convinced it is the confidence the French women have that creates their style. Wonderful post Vicki! It is also being true to yourself as well isn't it? I think of Jane Birkin as French (even though she is English) and her quirky style always looks so wonderful. Her daughters are always beautiful as well. xx

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SoozNooz

Loving what you have said today. I often find myself browsing – wishing and sometime resorting to trying on – only to think – nope just won't do.
But there are many things that will do – I like the idea of the being there and conquering. It is so true.
Style is something that we grow into – perhaps not determined by the fashions but a little borrowing here and there doesn't harm.
– boots sound lovely! x Suzi

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Marina

I hear what you're saying Vicki!

I absolutely adore Balmain, but if you're not 16, thin and tall… it kinda looks ridiculous.

But as you say "… fashion… is there to adapt… and make it wearable" and these images we see of what we 'like' as opposed to what we can 'wear' are inspirational boards for what we 'put together'… for our own look!
Great post!

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Shell Sherree

You've expressed this beautifully, Vicki. At any age, it's so important to dress in what suits us and makes the most of our good bits. And to never underestimate the power of accessories and a marvellous hair cut to put a spring in the step.

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EVA AGNES

So many comments that I think my words will drown.
Anyway, I will try.
First of all you are the answer to a somewhat not so young loving fashion.
Recently I started a fashion blog also for people who wants to stay young in fashion but not desperate.
http://venicedays.blogspot.com

I love your blog and what you have to say.

Hugs Eva Agnes

Reply
anita

i'm there now and its encouraging to know that women all over are rethinking their usual beauty ideals and reiventing what works.
its been an interesting journey as i entered my 50's

thanks for this one :)

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Millie

Great thoughts Vicki from a woman of great style! One of the most gorgeous things the kids ever said to me was the morning after a High School Speech Night many years ago. 'Hey Mum,' says Son #4, 'you know, you don't look like the other Mums. You look better.' I'll hold that thought forever.

So in my 54th year there are only a few things I need to feel good in the fashion stakes. Beautiful lingerie, a great haircut, super duper low-cut jeans & the best pair of boots I can hunt out. And of course my MOTH, who's never slow in coming forward with a complement.
Millie ^_^

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amber renee

i love this article and i agree and admire your confidence <3

so happy to find you!

looking around the blog community because i'm new (been meaning to introduce myself!) and finding new friends and blogs — would love to swap links or anything.

xxoo

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Lauren

I say- if you like it, and could feel confident in it, you could make the look your own. People will ALWAYS turn their heads and have "what is she WEARING moments?" but the most stylish and admirable taste-makers never cared. Peggy Guggenheim (think of those signature baroque sunglasses by Giacometti!), Edith Sitwell, Hamish Bowles, Diana Vreeland, even…

As for modern day women NOT in their 20s and rocking the biker look- have you seen pictures of Elle's Kate Lanphear? Her biker style is admirable!

Lauren

(IN)DECOROUS TASTE

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mimi charmante

there is something about finding your very own "style" and making it yours. I love that Audrey Hepburn did it, and that is what I am trying to do as the years pass by. It is a slow process, but I love the idea of finding a classic look that really works for me and then injecting fun, stylish pieces that keep it fun and young.
Thanks again for the fabulous post,
xx

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Clarity

Don't worry Vicki, no one can wear that outfit.

As for embracing clothing, the self comes first. I appreciate some fashion but am seriously happier in a simple floaty dress than cutting edge accessories. Whatever age you are, ageless clothes work best.

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Cynthia

Vicki, I so appreciate this topic as I am right with you in the fashion dilemmia though our solutions are different. You inspired me to reconsider my drab approach and take a few risks! Thank you for your comments on my blog. I was preparing for Willow Mannor's Annual Ball and just having your visit boosted my courage! Still I went as Katherine Hepburn in her pleated white silk- pretty conservative!

The photo you posted here was wild! I think those questions go through my mind—a lot! Sigh…French women know how to sustain style throughout their lives.

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Anonymous

Great post! Where can I learn the Paris/french style dressing for a 40ish woman? I would love to learn. Thanks.
Maria

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Fabulous Finds Gal

Fabulous post, Vicki!! I too in trapped in a body that happens to me in it's mid 40's and have been having this conversation in my head seriously everyday for the past few weeks. A recent birthday brought it on and working in a clothing boutique. French women get it. I am so glad there are powerful, thoughtful and stylish women living through their lives refusing to be frumpy. Thank goodness for great examples. And, you are one of them to me!
xo,
Christina
Fabulous Finds Gal

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Live In Full Color

Tres Bien Vicki!!! I so agree with your creed!!! When I was in Paris this summer doing a little people watching myself I realized that French woman wear their clothes- while sometimes I feel like here in NY the clothes are wearing the people, if you get my drift.

Confidence makes the greatest fashion accessory no matter what your age and I think the French have that cornered. I believe you are right about it being passed down through the generations- something to aspire to with our own daughters.

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Heavenly Housewife

I'm 34 and even i find myself asking myself those some questions. I don't want to look like I'm trying too hard. I think the best thing is to be classy, not trendy.

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corine

I'm telling myself that once I hit 50 all my self-image problems will be solved. i will be allowed to stop worrying and trying to look younger than I am. But then again, my 80 year old mother-in-law always wears turtlenecks, even on the beach, because she is ashamed of her neck.

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Easy and Elegant Life

Very well put and an admirable goal. Clothing, fashionable or not, should always show you at your best. One new accessory or trendy piece worked into a flawless wardrobe will keep your look current and have all eyes where they should be: on the woman wearing it.

Look at Ms. Deneuve. As Mr. Lane points out, well deserving of icon status.

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Debra

That's my thing I'm about to be 53 and I like the things that I like I like a lot of styles but I do try to stay age appropriate but I have my own modern style. I don't want to look like my 31 year old daughter.

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PCB

Great post Vicki! I think the key is exercise, eating properly, and an outlook on life that is optimistic!

Reply

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